Cefalù Cathedral
the facade and the portico

The marble portal: an intimate dialogue between complex ornamental aspects and formal structure

The ancient portal, dating back to the second half of the 12th century, is still a fine example of architecture today, although time has compromised the sculptural work by master stone carvers from the Romanesque period. It became part of that vast programme of furnishings aimed at embellishing the Cathedral, both outside and inside its spaces.
The full-centred arch , particularly typical in Sicilian Norman buildings,has an undoubtedly Islamic influence in its plastic composition and arabesques . Its particular curvature seamlessly converges with the decoration, giving free rein to a culture that is now worthy of artistic recognition and devoid of profane characteristics. Various white marble friezes , arranged in a harmonious manner, decorate the door jambs and the archivolt . The Cefalù portal may have originally been preceded by a cusp-shaped prothyrum , with the two merging into a single body due to its rather low dimensions close to the wall.
Over the course of time, because of its typology, it has been compared to the 11th and 12th century Apulian portals, such as the one in the Basilica of San Nicola in Bari . However, the most conforming comparison is with the Monreale portal , which gives us an idea of what it must have looked like in its entirety. In the parts that are still legible, motifs can also be found in the mosaics inside the cathedral and in the capitals of the of cloisters.The presence of projecting elements, including a corbel, gave dynamism to the complex decorative arrangement, which was undoubtedly influenced by the miniature in the transmission of models from northern workshops to southern Europe and across the Mediterranean basin.
Animals crowning other hypothetical architectural elements, plant whorls and beings with sinuous movements, perhaps chameleons, precede the sacred image of the crucified lamb, which is located at the apex of the composition in a loop resembling an almond.
The heterogeneous iconographic programme echoes the more complex Majestas Domini formula of Romanesque and Gothic portals.

Transformations over the centuries

Worship services

The chapel of san Castrense: an important renaissance work

The Gualtiero Cathedral

The rediscovered chapel

The plasticism of the main portico and Bonanno Pisano’s Monumental Bronze Door

Roger II of hauteville: a sovereign protected by God

The balance between architecture and light

Layers of different cultures decorate the external apses

A new Cathedral

Palermo: the happiest city

The Chapel of the Kings

A palimpsest of history

The Great Presbytery: a unique space for the cathedral

The towers and the western facade

A compositional design that combines nordic examples with new artistic languages, over the centuries

The architectural modifications ti the cathedral building after the death of Roger II and the transformations of the cloister

The Virgin Hodegetria

The Great Restoration

Characteristics of religious architecture in the romanesque period

Artistic elements in Peter’s ship

The beginning of the construction site

Interior decorations

The mosaics of the presbytery

The medieval city amidst monasticism and feudal aristocracy

The transformations of the hall through the centuries

Squaring the circle

The towers facing the facade used as bell towers

Porphyry sarcophagi: royalty and power

The dialogue between the architectures of the monumental complex

The construction of Monreale Cathedral: between myth and history

A Northern population

The side aisles

Ecclesia munita

A space between the visible and the invisible

The Cathedral over the centuries

The stone bible

The chorus: beating heart of the cathedral

The cultural substrate through time

The paradisiacal “Conca d’oro” that embraces Palermo: a name with countless faces through time

The columns of the nave: the meticulous study of the overall order

Gardens and architecture as a backdrop to the city of Palermo

Tempus fugit: a strategic project implemented in a short period of time

Under the crosses of the Bema

The links between the hauteville family and the monastic orders in Sicily

Thirteenth-century iconography decorates the nave’s wooden ceiling, designed with new solutions

The liturgical spaces of the protesis and the diaconicon

The lost chapel

Norman religious architecture with islamic influences in Sicily

The Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

The cemetery of kings

A tree full of life

The longest aisle

The area of the Sanctuary

A controversial interpretation

From the main gate to the aisles: an invitation to a journey of faith

From the Mosque to the Cathedral

The decorated facade

Biblical themes enlivened by the dazzling light of the stained – glass windows overlooking the naves

The side Portico: a combination of elegance and lightness of form

The chystro: a place between earth and sky

The king’s mark

A polysemy of high-level artistic forms and content

Cefalù: settlement evidence through time

Mosaic decoration

A mixture of styles pervades the floor decorations

Two initially similar towers, varied over time

The southern portico

The senses tell Context 1

A remarkable ceiling

A chapel by an unknown designer based on repeated symmetries

The Cefalù cathedral: a construction yard undergoing a change between a surge of faith and control over the territory

The marble portal: an intimate dialogue between complex ornamental aspects and formal structure

The mosaics of the apses

A cloister of accentuated stylistic variety

The original design

The chapel of St. Benedict

The Kings’ Cathedrals

The Bible carved in stone

The chapel of the crucifix: an artistic casket based on a previous model

Beyond the harmony of proportions

Survey of the royal tombs

Roger II’s strategic design